Per-Use Condo Fees

February 2018

Condo living comes with sharing the costs of maintaining a shared home.

Excessive emphasis on cost sharing can lead to abuse.  This occurs when a minority of condo owners find a way to force a majority to subsidize their behavioural choices.

One way to avoid this is to incorporate a limited number of per-use fees.

Electricity submetering ensures that residents pay for the electricity they use.  This avoids having a majority of condo residents paying for excessive use of electricity by a minority.  The longer term benefits are a reduction in monthly condo fees and the disincentive it creates for bad behaviour when it comes to energy consumption.

Move-in and move-out fees – a fee for each move-in or move-out – is a way to recover costs of administration, wear and tear on common areas, exclusive elevator access and additional security demands.

Too many per-use fees may upset some owners.  The alternative is a general increase in condo fees to cover these costs.

There is also the issue of fairness.  Rented suites create heavier demands on common areas. They can generate more administration, trash (during each move-in or move-out), wear and security demands on common areas than owner-occupied properties.  Forcing homeowners to pay these costs so that others can use their condo as an income generating rental property is an unreasonable expectation to some.

Pets can create heavier demands on common areas.  They can cause damage to landscaping and carpeting.

As with all things, there is a need for balance and fairness.  Some per-use fees are warranted.  Too many per-use fees can create ill will and a negative perception.

One approach to per-use fees is to focus on what is measurable.  Some condo corporations charge a  per-use fee for access to certain common area spaces such as a party room.  Guest passes for use of the pool or exercise room, or electric vehicle recharging are measurable and may warrant per-use fees.

The role of the board is to determine what is best for the condo corporation.  Failure to implement any per-use fees creates an opportunity for abuse by some condo owners.  Too many per-use fees, particularly those that encompass a significant portion of condo residents on an annual basis, can be a detriment to the condo corporation.

When considering per-use fees it is important to communicate with residents and owners.  When the intent is to avoid subsidizing a minority for their behavioural choices, support for per-use fees is likely to strong.

Everyone benefits when this results in lower monthly condo fees.